“The Happiest 5k on the Planet”

Today I was lucky enough to participate in The Color Run!  As far as I know, the originally American event is making its first tour of Australia and Perth got a piece of the action this morning.  I was lucky to have signed up early, because the event ended up completely sold out! I started the morning early by heading to my friend Thuy’s where a small group of us took photos and pumped ourselves up for the fun morning ahead.

Me and Thuy getting ready
Me and Thuy getting ready
Thuy and Michelle prepping
Thuy and Michelle prepping
Michelle, me and Thuy before the Color Run
Michelle, me and Thuy before the Color Run

We caught the bus and headed down to Langley park in the CBD with thousands of others.  It was great to see people running around in crazy outfits and identical Color Run gear.

I'm all ready to go!
I’m all ready to go!
Teri, Thuy and I "before"
Teri, Thuy and I “before”
Treble Clefs!
Treble Clefs!

In the end there was a group of about 10 of us sticking together as best we could.  Thuy, our other mates and I skipped, danced, jumped, jogged, walked and occasionally ran our way through the 5k course.  At every k, enthusiastic volunteers shook bottles of colorful powder at us.  After the first k (the color blue), we quickly realized we’d need to run right up to the Color Run crew as we went to ensure maximum color coverage.

My loves :D
My loves :D

All in all it was a fantastic morning.  We had a blast and it went by way too quickly.  At the end of the race we were given a bag of color powder each to be thrown in a group colorfest at the stage at the end of Langley Park.  They counted down until we all threw our dust in the sky together.  Thousands of us gathered and it was a beautiful five seconds of color flying up into the sky, before cascading down upon us in a cloud of deep red, green and pink.  The vibrant haze it created was breathtaking both figuratively and literally.  (It’s quite hard to see or breathe when standing in a giant fog of color dust.)

Michelle and Thuy (fairies!)
Michelle and Thuy (fairies!)
Thuy and I waiting for the bus
Thuy and I waiting for the bus

After catching the bus back to Thuy’s, I hustled home to show Matt how much fun I’d had.  He took this lovely picture for me before I commenced a very long scrub session in the shower.  There are still traces of the dust between my toes and on my neck and elbows.  I kinda like it there…

The Color Run Effect
The Color Run Effect

Check out The Color Run to see when it storms into a town near you!  (Mpls peeps, it’s coming this summer, don’t miss it!!)

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5 ways to Get and Stay Motivated

Motivation (or more accurately, lack-thereof) is one of the biggest problems affecting our lazy society.  I would go to the gym, but it’s such an effort. I’ve eaten so well this week, I can take a break today.  It’s too far away, I can’t be bothered.  Sound familiar?

Here are my five ways to get or stay motivated:

1. Set Reasonable Goals:  If you have never run a mile in your life, don’t just decide one day you want to run a marathon.  Start small, and create little goals for yourself along the way.  Even if you are working toward a bigger picture, it’ll help you stay super motivated if it involves smaller wins along the way.  Setting reasonable goals also means SPECIFY SPECIFY SPECIFY!  Don’t just say “this week, I’m going to be healthier.”  Instead, say “this week I’m going to exercise 5 days for 30 minutes each.”  Your brain likes variety, so allow yourself many ways of accomplishing the task.  If you need help, or just a little encouragement, check this out:

*To set the “right” health-related goals, maybe have one session with a physio, dietician or a personal trainer to find out where you are weak and what your focus should be.

2. Prepare! Think ahead: Of course it’s easier to stay in bed than to go for that morning run you promised yourself you’d do.  The best way to fight the morning groan is to set your alarm for a couple minutes earlier than you need.  That way if you have an inner argument you haven’t wasted the time you could have spent accomplishing your goals.  Also get to bed at a reasonable hour and set your clothes and other necessities out the night before.  Make sure those running shoes are staring at you when you roll over in the morning.

Thinking ahead also applies to the way in which you RSVP.  Don’t say yes to an event or Friday plans with friends if you foresee that the week will completely take it out of you.  Anticipate how tired you will be before you commit.  People aren’t offended if you say no from the start, and it’ll help you be more motivated and energetic for the next big activity.

3. Pump up the Jam: There are three times when you are likely to listen to music outside of home: In the car, on public transport and while you exercise.  These are usually areas where you need a bit of a pump-up.  Driving around running errands can be taxing, the bus ride to work can be a bit depressing on a dreary Monday, and exercise in the city or at the gym can be not-so-relaxing.  One of my small hidden talents happens to be making mixes.  I love a good mix, and I have since the Napster days when we first realized we could have the music we want and put in together in a compilation of our own creation.  I believe that events, whether significant or not, require a good mix.  I love listening to the radio every once in a while because it’s a great place to find good running songs.  I find music helps me drown out the noises of the outside world and focus inward.  Here are 5 of my all-time favorite exercise/pump-up songs (feel free to judge!):

-If We Ever Meet Again by Timbaland ft. Katy Perry (I know it’s random, but I love to put it toward the end of a running mix because it really gets me going all over again)

-Super Freak by Rick James

-Sleepyhead by Passion Pit (perfect first song to get you started)

-Take Over Control by Afrojack

-Don’t Feeling Like Dancing by Scissor Sisters

Don’t forget the general treasure chest that is the 90s.  90s music is the BEST for singing loud in the car or jamming out during a run.  Another Night by The Real Mccoy is my all-time fave, but other great ones include: Rhythm is a Dancer, Mr. Vain, and of course the Jock Jams megamix.

Use music whenever you need it.  Personally I need a super sweet dance mix if I’m going be motivated to clean the house.  It’s the main reason I love to clean alone!

4. Phone a Friend: This one is pretty obvious, but having a friend along is one of the best ways to stay motivated.  Whether it’s a new diet or a vigorous exercise class, having mates at your side makes everything easier and more fun.

I personally am someone who likes a balance between friends and independence.  More often than not I go for goals by myself.  But I have many friends who find it extremely difficult to exercise alone.  It’s all about personal preference.  Make it a routine if you can, on Tuesday I go to Body Attack with Meg, on Sunday I go for a long run by myself.  Routines keep you in the right head space, and you are more likely to accomplish your goals if you feel like it’s mandatory (even when self-inflicted).

5. Get the Gear: Matt and I are both avid writers and sometimes we lose inspiration.  I find that buying myself a pretty new journal is often a good place to start.  It gets me in the mood to write.  A few of my friends have recently started exercising more, and once they invested in some quality clothing and equipment, they found it easier to stay motivated (one of them didn’t even previously own a sports bra, despite being a decent athlete).  Exercise clothing is my weakness.  Matt can’t understand why I need 5 pairs of spandex (2 for yoga, 1 for running, 2 for both).  But when you have a rigorous fitness routine (and you’re a slave to the sun when it comes to laundry), it ends up making sense.  I always try to get in on the sales at lululemon when they happen.  It’s best to stock up whenever you can.  I love having the right gear, I feel it legitimizes my athletic status.

Do your research, and make sure you aren’t wasting money on things you don’t need.  Also be sure that your new activity is one you’ll be into for a good long while (aka don’t invest in a yoga or pilates mat for one class only).

There you have it, my 5 ways to get and stay motivated.  When I come up with ideas for 5 ways, I do my best to portray changes people can easily make.  It’s all about forming good habits and making small adjustments.  After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

5 Ways to Love Your Back

Welcome to the first post in my brand new 5 ways segment.  I thought I’d start simple, though my brain is absolutely bursting with ideas.

Back pain is one of the most comment complaints I hear (especially at work).  Along with fatigue, it seems to be one of those things that plagues absolutely everyone.  I suppose what’s compelled me to write this piece is that it appears no one is willing to actually address their aches at the source.  To beat tough pain, don’t go straight for the Advil.  Here are my tips to love and care for your back:

1. Foam Roller: You’ve probably seen this contraption at the gym.  It’s great for all sorts of injuries and tightness, but did you know it can help loosen your upper back and shoulders?  One more reason I’m sad my sister Rachel isn’t around; there’s no one to crack my back!  For that satisfying crunch to release tension, use a foam roller.

*DO NOT use any unfamiliar equipment without consulting a professional. Gym trainers and instructors are happy to help, so have one of them teach you how to use the roller properly. Otherwise consult a physiotherapist!

2. Lighten Your Load:  We’ve all been hearing this one since elementary school.  Students especially carry way too much heavy stuff.  It’s important that your back not be burdened by too much unnecessary weight.  So if you’re going out for the day, my suggestion is to carry a small shoulder bag or satchel rather than your heaping handbag with your whole life inside.  Really all you need is your phone, wallet and lip gloss, right?

*A tip for dudes: Lucky you that a wallet in the pocket is all you need! Don’t forget to remove wallet and phone from your pockets before sitting down (I know that sounds obvious, but not everyone does it).  Sitting for prolonged periods with your wallet in the back pocket is extremely hazardous to your back!

3. Change Your Footwear:  I can’t believe how many people out there are killing their backs with bad footwear.  This was the first change I made when I was feeling the burden of daily back pain.  I probably tried 5 different pairs of work shoes before finding gold.  I never thought I’d say it, but I am a convert to the church of Crocs.  Nowadays they make simple ballet flats, so you can get away with wearing them to work.  They are super supportive, comfortable, and they have done wonders for my lower back.  Even if you wear them for the commute, it will help your poor back and feet to relax before you throw on the professional pumps at the office.  For guys having issues, they make plenty of feet and back friendly shoes for gents as well.  If you aren’t ready to sacrifice a bit of style, perhaps look at investing in some high quality insoles.

4. Double Strap It:  This is another change that is so simple I can’t believe everyone hasn’t already done it.  I know it can look a bit dorky, but wearing a backpack to work has really helped my upper back and shoulders.  Rather than spending significant periods of each day feeling lopsided by a loaded purse or a weighty gym bag, a backpack is big enough to fit everything you need without killing your back.  Plus with the free hands, you can hold your umbrella AND text at the same time!

5. Treat Yourself: Regular massage is a great way to care for your back and to release tension.  I recommend getting one once a month.  If you’re an athlete like me, remedial sports massage or even appointments with the chiropractor can be a great way to recover from training.  Massages don’t need to break the bank; check your local Scoopon/Groupon/OurDeal and you’ll find regular posts for discounted treatments.

And there you have it, my 5 tips to love your back.  See you soon for the next healthy helping of sound advice!

Making Lemonade

Not often do I use this blog for product promotion, but this time I’ve stumbled upon something truly special.  Yesterday I was browsing my Facebook news feed when I noticed a link post from an old college acquaintance.  Her description announced it was her “latest blog post for The Zesty Digest.”  Not knowing she was a blogger, I was intrigued.

The Zesty Digest is a daily blog by an ezine called Sweet Lemon Magazine.  After reading Margaret’s article about healthy snacking, I found myself clicking through the archive finding myriad interesting posts.

The most exciting part, however, was the photo on the right under “magazine stand.”  The cover girl for the current Sweet Lemon issue is Inslee Haynes, a fellow W&L grad!

I discovered Inslee’s company by chance (again through Facebook) as we weren’t close back in college and I didn’t have her in my friends list.  I’m fairly certain I would have mentioned her site before, but I’ll do so again anyway.  She is an inspiration to girls with a dream.  She took what most would consider to be a “hobby” to the next level and has made it into a career.

Inslee by Design is absolutely fabulous.  As a fashion illustrator, Inslee makes cards, calendars, sketches, prints, invitations and does commissions.  I have been a fan of hers for quite a while now; her cards are great to give as presents or to keep.  I will soon be getting some of her prints now that Matt and I are redecorating the office.  I’m also planning on snapping up the 2013 calendar and some more cards for Christmas.  (Gift idea alert!)

I won’t post more images from Inslee because I want my readers clicking the links and checking her out!  Her site has always been in my blogroll, but feel free to browse her blog and also her Facebook page.  I find creative people so inspiring, and I am so happy that she has been such a success.

But back to Sweet Lemon for a moment…After reading through some of the back issues and the current issue cover to cover, I have learned a lot, and I cannot wait to write-up my own pitches for submission.  The great thing about Sweet Lemon is that even if every article doesn’t apply directly to me, it’s still great seeing so many strong, talented 20-somethings on the pages of a magazine.  I’m getting really tired of all the celebrities and the mags focusing solely on sex.  This magazine is about fashion, cooking, travel, lifestyle and above all REAL PEOPLE.  I have several ideas floating around in my head and I cannot wait to put them on paper (well, in internet form).

Even if you don’t have time to browse the whole magazine this weekend, at least check out The Zesty Digest.  They post new articles everyday from real women around the country (and presumably the world).  I hope I can be a helpful Aussie correspondent!

So here’s what you’ve missed…

I’ve been back to my old bad blogger ways of late. Sorry to anyone actually reading that I’ve let it go awhile since the last post.  Been so busy!  This post covers the very lovely weekend I had last week (21st/22nd).

Last Saturday, Matt and I had a little outing to Guildford.  This is a little town famous for its antique and tea shops.  We were mainly headed straight for the used bookstore Matt had often heard praised.  It did not disappoint!  I came away with a few novels and a couple of cookbooks.

I love browsing through used bookstores.  You just never know what you might find.  I am especially excited about the giant Marie Claire seasonal cookbook I bought for only $16.  It’s got a section for every season and includes breakfasts, mains AND desserts for each.

It was nice being out just the two of us, and it was a beautiful day.  Winter in Perth is completely unpredictable.  It’s a downpour one day, sunny the next, then freezing.  Makes no sense, but I’m happy to take advantage of the fine weather when it comes.

Saturday was also our friend Annabeth’s 21st birthday party.  In Australia the 21st birthday is a big one.  People usually throw a huge bash with a bar tab and a key-shaped cake.  I don’t really get it, but I’m always happy to celebrate!  My dear Annabeth is all about color and general pizzazz, so I made sure to wear my gorgeously special Dior lippy for the occasion.  The lighting is terrible in our bathroom, but here’s the best photo I have.

I was also able to wear heels for the first time since I rolled my ankle back in February!  I’ve been feeling pretty good for quite a while, but heels was one of the final frontiers of recovery (the last being the basketball game I played in the following Monday).

Annabeth was in such high demand that we didn’t end up getting a photo with her.  We did manage to get some with other friends, though.  I wish I’d been able to snap a photo of the gorgeous cake her sisters made for her.  It really looked professional.  I cannot wait to learn to make pretty cakes!

At this point I’d already lost my voice.  Now I’m finally over the cold/flu that took over my life for the past 4 or 5 weeks.  I hardly ever get sick (though since moving to Australia I’ve been extremely injury-prone).  It’s been frustrating having this flu that won’t quit.

 

On Sunday morning before my soccer game I went to The Tuck Shop in Northbridge to meet up with Teri for breakfast.  I’ve been absolutely dying to try this place and it ended up exceeding even my highest expectations.  I used to work with the chef/owner back in 2010/11.  He is a genius and this place is a masterpiece.

 

Teri has been in South Africa for the last month, so it was amazing to see her.  We are workout and breakfast buddies, and she has also been on all of my indoor soccer teams.  There’s no one else in my life quite like Teri.

This is the beautiful lamb dish I had for breakfast.  It was delicious.  No other way to describe it really.  It was perfect!

I have already run way too long on this post, so I will leave the updates at that.  I have so much going on at the moment, and I’m eager to share, but I should really do it in smaller doses.  This past weekend I left little room for fun and devoted my whole Saturday to “getting organized.”  Hopefully I’ll soon be the model of a woman who has “got it together.”  I hate to be scattered.  Busy and structured is best for me!

 

 

27 is all about the chemist

Today I made that once in 3 months trip to the chemist.  (Australians study pharmacy, they don’t “go to the pharmacy.”  Here it’s all about “the chemist.”)  It’s always expensive.  I put off this trip until I’m out of nearly everything.  When my night cream ran out a few days ago, it was the last straw.  Here’s what I wore after work:

Today was the final appearance of the Country Road blue pants.  It’s time to wash them, so they will not be making another appearance.  I needed a cute, yet active outfit for my quick post-work errands and appointment at the chiro.

We live near one of the best pizzeria’s in Perth, and tonight was a lazy takeout night for sure.  Mostly because we’d defrosted steaks, but had nothing good to eat with them.  I feel like a mega fatty since I’m still not doing exercise until my knees recover.  I’m still creaking like the Tin Man up and down stairs, so still no running for me. Sigh.

Since the place (Marco’s) is just down the road, I only need my pink Coach wallet for pizza expeditions.  I love this wallet.  I’ve had it for years, though I didn’t bring it with me to Europe.  It’s the perfect size and it’s elegant, girly without being tacky.

Last year my new years resolution was to take better care of my skin, and since then I’ve become somewhat of a collector when it comes to facial products.  My absolute essentials are the Aveeno cream cleanser and the Clinique eye makeup remover (I have sensitive eyes, and it’s one of the few products that doesn’t sting).  I do endless research online to continually perfect my skin routine.  Moisturizer, face mask, exfoliating scrub, toner (I only use this sparingly) and anything made by Avene are also key to completing my collection.

The addition of a night cream was the biggest change from my pre-2011 rituals.  I’m only 26, but I like to think I can somehow get a jump on the aging process, and night cream is a logical first step.  I like to try different kinds, and I’ve loved both the Sukin organic one (my first night cream) and the Olay Anti-Aging that just ran out this week.  Today I bought my third one.  The brand is ulittlebeauty, which is just adorably Aussie.  I bought the eye balm as well because my old one poked a hole and leaked everywhere.

Just one last little tidbit to share, it’s vintage Herbal Essences!  I love Priceline pharmacies because they carry the largest range of products.  It’s a chemist designed for women, even the membership cards are pink.  I adore cool finds like these; I loved this shampoo back when I was in elementary and middle school.

I don’t remember any of my 2012 resolutions, but I’m so glad that in 2011 I was able to find one that really stuck.  And it’s not just about the face, I’m also the one you can always depend on to provide the sunscreen.  I try to avoid scented lotions because the dyes and perfumes can be harmful.  Even my body wash is just Dove sensitive skin.  Don’t be vain when it comes to skincare, take care of your skin, it’s your greatest protector!